From a young age, San Antonio photographer Al Rendón felt a compulsion to photograph events. In 1969, as he watched the moon landing, the twelve-year-old took a photo of his television set. That same year, when he heard the film Viva Max! was shooting in downtown San Antonio, he snapped pictures of the actors (before security shooed him away). By the time he was sixteen years old, he was confident enough to take his high school’s photography equipment to a Led Zeppelin concert, rushing the stage to get close shots.

From September 2 through January 7, San Antonio’s Witte Museum will run a fifty-year retrospective of Rendón’s work: “Mi Cultura—Bringing Shadows Into the Light: The Photography of Al Rendón.” The show includes the 66-year-old’s early rock photographs as well as his street photography, portraits of tejano and conjunto artists, and images of icons from his hometown. “Each of his photos has a ‘tell,’ and I love looking for them in his photographs,” said the Witte’s president and CEO, Marise McDermott. “In a charreada photo, for example, a young horsewoman’s boots are very worn. That’s an Al signature: they’re worn because she practiced, and he followed her as she was practicing, for hours and hours and hours. That’s the kind of tell that he has.

“He’s a narrator, a storyteller,” she continued.

As a preview of his show, we’ve asked Rendón, who has shot for Texas Monthly over the years, to comment on a few selections from his archive.